On Wednesday, July 25th, it was announced that the Red Sox had acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since he was slated to start for the Rays that day, Eovaldi took in a bullpen session when he arrived in Boston on Thursday morning and was then scheduled to make his first start in a Red Sox uniform on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.
Having faced the Twins in his second to last start as a Ray and getting lit up for eight earned runs on nine hits back on July 13th, Eovaldi looked more like himself on the Fenway Park mound this afternoon.
In an efficient seven innings pitched, the right-hander held the Twins scoreless while scattering just four hits and zero free passes to go along with five strikeouts.
While he was on the mound, the closest a Twins hitter came to scoring was on a Eddie Rosario double in the first inning. Other than that, it was just singles for Minnesota off of Eovaldi.
The Twins could have made things interesting in the third, but a catch of the year candidate from Jackie Bradley Jr. off a Bobby Wilson fly ball prevented that from happening.
According to Statcast, Bradley Jr. added to his best defensive center fielder in baseball case by covering 78 feet to make a catch that he had a 42% chance of getting to for the first out of the inning.
What was even more impressive about this outing for Eovaldi is how efficient he was and the pace at which he worked out.
Starting out the first two innings by needing 20 and 13 pitches respectively, here is what the 28 year-old’s pitch numbers look like over the last five frames he appeared in: 8, 9, 9, 9, and 14 to reach a total of 82 on the day.
In total, about 77% of those 82 pitches from Eovaldi went for strikes and he topped out at 98.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the seventh inning.
Despite such a low pitch count, Alex Cora took a more cautious route by turning to the bullpen for the remainder of today’s contest.
Picking up the win in your first start with a new team is certainly a great first step, and Eovaldi will look to build on this success outing in his next time out against the New York Yankees on Friday.
In relief of Eovaldi, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he worked his way around a leadoff walk to toss a scoreless frame in the eighth.
With his team up by three runs, Craig Kimbrel made his first appearance since blowing the save on Friday night, and he rebounded by notching his 33rd save of the season with a strikeout and a game-ending double play to secure the win.
On the other side of things, JD Martinez was responsible for all three runs the Red Sox scored on Sunday.
Facing off against Minnesota’s ace in righty Jose Berrios, Boston certainly had multiple chances to pile on the runs early, as they loaded the bases three times in the first four innings, but could only came away with three total runs.
Opening up the scoring in the second, with two outs and the bases loaded, JD Martinez drove in his first two runs of the day on a hard hit double to left, scoring both Brock Holt and Mookie Betts to put the Red Sox on the board first.
Two innings later, Martinez struck again, this time for one run, on another hard hit RBI single to drive in Andrew Benintendi, who had doubled off of Berrios minutes before, from second for his team’s third and final run of the contest.
Some notes from this shutout win:
From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox own MLB’s best record (74-33, .692). They are as many as 41 games above .500 for the first time since 1946, when they entered play on September 28 with a 104-48 record.
Blake Swihart started at third base for the first time in his career today. Not only did he extend his hitting streak to nine games with a 2/4 day at the plate, but he also had a nice day patrolling the hot corner.
Going into the week fresh off three straight wins, the Red Sox will welcome the first place Philadelphia Phillies into town for a quick two-game set that starts tomorrow.
Starting for the Phillies will be right-hander Aaron Nola, a former first round pick out of Louisiana State University who owns a 2.42 ERA in 21 starts this season and has never faced the Red Sox in his four-year career.
He’ll be matched up against another SEC guy in Vanderbilt alum David Price for Boston.
Coming off 6.1 scoreless innings against the Tigers in Detroit, Price has had struggles against the Phillies over three career starts in his career, but he’ll look to reverse that trend on Monday.
First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET at Fenway Park.